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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Local organizations provide food, resources for people in need this Thanksgiving

Illustration by June Woo
Groups like Meals On Wheels Northeastern Illinois and A Just Harvest are providing free meals this Thanksgiving thanks to the work of their staff and volunteers.

Every Thanksgiving, several thousand residents walk or run along the lakefront for the Evanston Flying Turkey 5k. The race provides an opportunity for people to donate money and goods to help people in need.

“We really try to push that we’re doing (the race) for the community,” said Jonathan Cain, race director for the Evanston Flying Turkey 5k. “Everybody likes to do things in Evanston that (are) a benefit for the community as a whole. So we want to make sure that we include ourselves in that conversation.”

The Evanston Vineyard Food Pantry will collect canned goods at the race. A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to the food pantry and the Community Animal Rescue Effort, the race’s charity partners.

Additionally, the Evanston Running Club will collect shoes of all kinds to donate to Changing Footprints, a nonprofit organization based in Rushville, Indiana, that distributes shoes to people in need.

In past years, race organizers have used funds and donations to support groups like Connections for the Homeless, which supports unhoused people in Evanston, and Foundation 65, which provides grants for programs supporting students and educators.

Other Evanston organizations are also providing food to people in need during the Thanksgiving season and throughout the year.

Meals On Wheels Northeastern Illinois delivers meals to senior citizens and other people who may not be able to prepare their own food. On Thanksgiving, volunteers will deliver turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie alongside handmade cards.

“One in six older adults struggle to access food, which equates to about 25,000 or more in our existing delivery area,” said Deborah Mack, executive director of Meals On Wheels Northeastern Illinois. “And there are other areas that don’t have access to the kind of services that we provide. So we would really like to be able to serve as many people as possible.”

According to Mack, the organization started a waiting list for receiving food for the first time in May, because donations could not keep up with the increased demand for meals.

Another organization, A Just Harvest, provides meals at its community kitchen every day from 12-2 p.m., including holidays like Thanksgiving.

Mark Williams, community kitchen manager at A Just Harvest, said the kitchen will give away free turkeys on a first-come, first-serve basis on Nov. 18 using donations from local residents and organizations.

“One thing that I enjoy about this job is helping people,” Williams said. “Seniors or families, they’re in need. We can provide a service for them to help make that day better for them where they don’t have to worry about getting a meal.”

Mack and Williams both encouraged community members to volunteer and donate. They emphasized the value that volunteer work and donations provide.

“Everyone jumps in and does what they’re best at, and (the organization) just works,” Mack said. “It’s like the mechanism of a clock, where you have all the different cogs, and everything just works.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @edwardsimoncruz

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